As many families prepare to go off on mid-winter getaways or spring break to warm and sunny destinations, it’s important for parents to talk with teens about the dangers of tanning.
A suntan today can cause very serious skin problems tomorrow. Many teens think tanning in a booth or bed is not harmful, but this is not true. Ultraviolet lights have the same damaging effects as the sun.
Explain to your teen that all tanning harms the skin, causing visible and invisible damage. Visible damage, appears within a few hours after exposure, and includes suntan and sunburn. Invisible damage, such as premature aging, wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer, may develop years later.
Because most children and teens are outdoors three times more than most adults, up to 80 percent of a person’s lifetime exposure to the sun occurs before 18. It can take 10 to 20 years for skin damage caused by childhood or teenage sun exposure to result in skin cancer or premature aging.
Encourage your teen to:
- Refrain from tanning in beds or booths.
- Avoid long periods of sun exposure. The sun’s energy is greatest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater. Apply it as often as needed to prevent redness or burning. This will vary depending on a person’s skin type.
- If swimming or sweating, reapply the sunscreen often.
- Wear hats with a visor or adequate brim.